5 Tips For Controlling Telecoms And Networking Spend

If your organisation has a number of sites and/or many remote workers that need to be connected, you’ll more than likely want to keep a tight rein on telecoms and networking costs. Here are five points to keep in mind if you want to control or trim budgets in these areas.

1. Test the market for better prices and terms

Technology improvements and competitive pressures mean that telecoms and networking prices generally are on a long term downward trend. If it’s been a while since you agreed the charges with your existing providers, it’s worth testing the market to see what else is out there. You might find a more competitive supplier or put yourself in a better position to renegotiate.

But don’t just look at price; keep an eye out for flexible terms. In the current climate organisations need to move quickly and adapt to changing business circumstances. But for fixed business connections, such as private leased lines or MPLS (multiprotocol label switching) networks which are used for connecting multiple sites, many telecoms providers will lock customers in for between three to five years. So if your needs change before the contract is up – i.e. you move or have to rationalise locations – you’ll be forced to continue paying hefty charges on lines you’re not using.

You can also be locked in like this if you are paying for broadband links to a pool of home-based workers. Even if those workers re-locate or move on, you may still be required to continue paying until the end of the individual contracts. Be sure to look for providers that offer extra flexibility and don’t tie you in.

2. Consider alternatives to expensive private leased telecoms lines

There are networking appliances available now that provide the ability to ‘bond’ multiple standard broadband connections and make them perform like a single big link. This technique can often provide bandwidth close to that provided by dedicated private leased lines – but which costs a lot less.

And if your organisation already uses leased lines and you think there may be a need for even more capacity, this bonding technique can provide a quick, low cost way of adding extra bandwidth. It lets you add more capacity, gradually – in smaller chunks – rather than having to pay a high up-front charge for a big upgrade.

3. Don’t automatically buy a bigger link if traffic seems to be moving slowly

If the network traffic seems to be moving slowly between sites, it doesn’t automatically mean you should splash out on bigger connections. There are technologies such as Wide Area Network (WAN) optimisation that may fix the problem.

WAN optimisation compresses and de-duplicates the data moving along telecoms lines to ensure it moves more efficiently. By effectively reducing the volume of data that’s pumped between network sites it may address the issue of slow moving traffic.

Traffic flows can also be optimised by assigning different priorities to specific data. This is possible using firewalls and other appliances. Data that is most critical or needs to move more quickly – such as Internet telephony– can be given a higher priority.

4. Brand is not necessarily the best

It isn’t always best to go for big brand names when buying products such as firewalls and other networking equipment. Smaller companies often have to work harder to create better technology and don’t charge as much.

5. Check your invoices

It’s surprising how many organisations forget to cancel unused telecoms services when contracts come up for renewal and let the direct debits keep going through the system. Perform an audit of the services your business is currently paying for – and weed out any that might relate to applications or locations that are no longer actively used.

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Graham McLean is MD of CI-Net, a specialist provider of managed Internet services and secure resilient wide area networks. The company builds and manages solutions crafted from an extensive portfolio of connectivity, security and optimisation products plus Web and professional services to support a huge variety of online and e-business activities. It enables businesses of all sizes to communicate better with their customers, suppliers, partners, home workers, branch offices, temporary sites and mobile workers – no matter what the circumstances.